Some parishes trying to ease stress on paramedics during 4th COVID surge
BATON ROUGE – There are new measures in place to help ease the workload of paramedics during the pandemic. EMS is dealing with multiple hurdles making it hard to properly care for their patients' needs.
“One of the big issues is offloading at the hospital,” said Darryl Gissel, chief administrative officer for the East Baton Rouge mayor-president's office.
Since hospitals are so crowded right now with COVID patients, paramedics are having to wait up to an hour before they can get their patient into an emergency room. That's time they could use responding to other emergencies.
"We're trying to work with parish officials and elected officials to try to slow the flow the patients going to the emergency departments right now,” said Porter Taylor, the director of operations with Acadian Ambulance Service.
Executive orders signed last week in EBR and Wednesday in Livingston will now allow first responders to start prioritizing patients as they're called in, only sending out a paramedic if the symptoms seem necessary. Otherwise, an EMT will respond.
"We want to be able to get to the people quicker, calm them down hopefully make them understand and see if we can't help them that way,” Taylor said.
Taylor says a lot of patients are calling in right now with cold and flu-like symptoms that don't always need a paramedic's care.
"The nausea, the vomiting, the fever, maybe feeling tired... and of course the basic EMT will get there and differentiate if it's COVID or something respiratory or cardiac-wise,” Taylor said. “When in doubt, the paramedic is coming after.”
Wednesday night, East Baton Rouge council members are also considering a special, higher recruiting rate for EMS to alleviate a shortage in staff. The council is also allowing firefighters, who typically get to a patient first, the ability to drive an ambulance to an ER themselves instead of waiting for an EMS unit to arrive.
"We always try to and figure out what we can do to be as responsive as we can with the resources that we have,” Gissel said.
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